CAD in guitar making?

Computer Aided Design (CAD) has been around for a while now, and I decided it's about time I went headfirst into that world. My hope was that it was going to be a really useful skill, even for a guitar maker who predominantly works with hand tools.

I've always had a hunch that I'd really enjoy using CAD once I've got my head around it. I've noticed a handful of guitar makers (generally from the 'electric guitar' end of the spectrum) who get very detailed results and can visualise the instrument in a very real way before they've even touched a piece of wood (or pencil and paper for that matter). It's great to have something palpable to show your customers before you start work on an instrument.

I'm currently working on an electric bass commission - a totally new sort of project for me - so I figured that using Autodesk's AutoCAD software would be a ideal starting point. Having drawn up the key specifications (scale length, number of strings, neck dimensions etc) I then started to work on various iterations of body shapes and headstock designs. Ultimately at the moment it's more of an exercise in getting to grips with the software.

Tis bass will be chambered, but I haven't yet figured out how I'm going to port those chambers to the outside work through the guitar front. F-holes feels a little too traditional to me, but I've a few ideas brewing. There will some inlay work on the front which will mirror some of my previous Kandinsky-inspired guitar designs. Watch this space!

Thinking further down the line the main benefit of using CAD will be to generate routing templates which can be laser cut from perspex. Perfect for electric guitars and basses, and when I start work on an ambitious harp guitar project later in the year it will be interesting to see if I can manage working in 3D as well.

I've only been learning this software for about 3 weeks, and I'm only scratching the surface. But I think it's a really powerful tool. Drop your thoughts and comments below, I'd love to hear them!

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